Sony VPL-XW7000ES 4K SXRD Home Theater Projector Review – Notable Features

April 26, 2022

/ By Projector Reviews Staff

Sony XW7000ES with a list of included technologies

The XW7000ES utilizes many of Sony's popular features and proprietary technologies discussed in great detail in our reviews of other Sony home theater projectors including the VW1025ES, VW915ES, and VW715ES.

However, let's quickly summarize some unique/upgraded features found on the Sony XW7000ES.

NEW 0.61-INCH NATIVE 4K UHD SXRD PANELS

All Sony's projectors utilize SXRD panels which is Sony's version of LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon). This three-chip 4K SXRD imaging system is very similar to what has been utilized in Sony 4K cinema projectors that are found in the best movie theaters in the world.

Previously, all Sony 4K Home Theater projectors used 0.74" SXRD panels with the same native cinematic 4K resolution (4096 x 2160) and 17:9 aspect ratio as your favorite 4K movie theater projector. However, most consumer 4K content is produced in 4K UHD which is 3840 x 2160 with an aspect ratio of 16:9. This means that nearly 7% of the older SXRD panel’s resolution was not utilized when viewing 4K UHD material on a 16:9 screen.

Comparison of different screen sizes and resolutions
Sony's 0.74" SXRD panels are 4k (4096 x 2060) while the new 0.61" SXRD panels are 4K UHD (3840x2160)

When using a 16:9 screen the extra pixels found on the 0.74" SXRD panels were just zoomed off the screen. Not only were you not using all the pixels on screen you were not using all the projector’s brightness.

The XW7000ES features newly developed 0.61" Native 4K UHD (3840x2160) SXRD panels. Unlike some competitor 2K pixel shifting projectors, the new native 4K UHD SXRD panels found in the XW-Series can faithfully reproduce all 8.3 million pixels found in the 4K UHD (3840x2160) SDR and HDR content you watch every day. Since all 8.3 million pixels along with all the laser light source’s output is utilized on a 16X9 screen, there is wasted resolution or brightness.

While the SXRD panels are still Sony's proprietary version of LCoS technology which delivers high contrast ratio and deep blacks, they are more compact. While developing the 10,000 lumens GTZ-380 learned some lessons trying the maximize that unit brightness while still delivering deep blacks. That information was used not only to develop the new 0.61-inch SXRD panels but also to redesign the projector’s internal optics.

The new SXRD panel offers higher light and a flatter reflective surface which improves the XW-Series brightness and native contrast. While the new SXRD panels offer very high native contrast, the XW7000ES projector's dynamic contrast is nearly infinite due to their ability to precisely modulate their laser light sources.

New version of the 4K UHD panel
The New 0.61 inch 4K SXRD panel is more compact than the previous version

Sony also made improvements to the technology used to drive the new SXRD panels which result in more precise grayscale gradation and finer color reproduction.

The new Wide Dynamic Range Optics uses Sony’s latest Z-Phosphor laser diodes along with a new light source cooling system. In addition, the newly developed optical system has higher reflectance along with more uniform polarization. The end result is a more compact design that offers better light control while maximizing the potential of the laser light source.

New Wide Dynamic Range Optics are compact with better light control
New Wide Dynamic Range Optics are compact with better light control

Smaller, denser SXRD panels reduce the size of the optical block and lenses, resulting in compact projectors which can deliver the performance of larger models. This is one of the main reasons why the XW7000ES is the lightest and most compact native 4K projector in its class. When compared to the VPL-VW915ES, the new XW7000ES is 20% smaller and about 30% lighter while delivering 1200 lumens more brightness.

The higher brightness and native contrast combined with a wide color gamut make HDR content really pop on the XW7000ES. We had the ability to review the XW7000ES and its HDR performance was noticeably better than the award-winning VPL-VW1025ES which retailed for $12,000 more.  

ACF LENS ASSEMBLY

Newly Developed ACF (Advanced Crisp Focused) Lens
Newly Developed ACF (Advanced Crisp Focused) Lens

To complement the new 0.61-inch SXRD imager found in the XW7000ES, Sony has developed a new ACF (Advanced Crisp Focused) lens assembly. This optical system is basically a compact version of their outstanding ARC-F (All Range Crisp Focus) lens.

The VW1025ES came bundled with an ARC-F lens, which is an ultra-high-quality multi-element all-glass lenses assembly. This type of lens is also utilized on the VW5000ES and the flagship GTZ380 home theater projectors.

This lens assembly commanded a high premium because it literally doubles the price of the VW1025ES ($40,000 SRP) compared to the VW915ES ($20,000 SRP). However, the difference in sharpness was dramatic. It is like looking through an open window.  When viewed through the unit’s ARC-F lens, things just seem clearer – richer, more real.

Sony claims that the new ACF lens found in the XW7000ES offers the same optical quality as the ARC-F lens found in the previous VW1025ES. However, the new projector is brighter, more compact, and $12,000 less.

The ACF lens is a floating lens system with two moving lens groups that include extra low-dispersion (ELD) elements. This ensures optimal convergence of the red, green, and blue light even at the extreme edges of the screen. The benefit is outstanding focus across the entire screen and a significant reduction in chromatic aberration (color fringing).

While I didn’t have the opportunity to compare the XW7000ES and VW1025ES, the image from the new projector was outstanding. If you plan on sitting close to a very large screen, you will definitely appreciate the additional sharpness of the ACF lens found in the XW7000ES. In addition to more clarity, The ACF lens ensures the maximum amount of the laser light source’s brightness reaches the screen.

X1 ULTIMATE FOR PROJECTOR

Superior processing separates Sony’s video displays from the competition. Last year Sony began equipping their new 4K home theater projectors (like the VW1025ES) with a version of the same X1 Processor that has been optimized for projectors.

The XW7000ES is equipped with the X1 Ultimate video processor which was first introduced in Sony’s flagship SXRD projector the VPL-GTZ380. This video processor is based on the original X1 Ultimate Processor used for Sony's top of the line BRAVIA TVs.

While the processor was originally designed for Sony's Master Series LCD and OLED flat-panel televisions, this version has been optimized for projectors with the goal of enhancing the picture quality of projected images.

The X1 Ultimate is Sony's most powerful video processor
The X1 Ultimate is Sony's most powerful video processor

The X1 Ultimate Processor not only improves the detail and resolution of any source, it also provides a noticeable improvement in the HDR performance compared to the old Sony 4K SXRD models. HDR content will be brighter with richer colors, deeper black levels, and bright highlight detail will be more visible.

Of all the benefits of the X1 Ultimate Processor, the most notable is the Dynamic HDR Enhancer feature which dramatically improves the look of HDR content. Thanks to the Dynamic HDR Enhancer, the XW7000ES can analyze HDR content scene by scene for precise dynamic tone mapping of HDR10 content.

HDR analysis and tone mapping might be a new concept for a lot of projector manufacturers, but Sony began blazing the trail back in 2017 when their 4K TV lineup introduced the X1 Processor. HDR scenes are brighter, with richer colors and a better black level.

In addition, a second feature called Object-based HDR Remaster analyzes and adjusts the colors and contrast of individual objects on the screen. Some projectors can adjust contrast frame-by-frame, this is accomplished along a single contrast curve. The X1 Ultimate adjusts each object in each frame individually of both SDR and HDR content using multiple contrast curves per frame. Because of Object-based HDR Remaster, you will experience results in greater depth, richer textures, and an even more realistic SDR and HDR image.

In the XW7000ES, this precision tone mapping is combined with a dynamic laser light modulation to greatly improve the look of HDR content. In a recent article, we took a deep dive into how the X1 Ultimate processor helped the GTZ380 achieve the best HDR picture we have ever seen. Check it out!

The XW7000ES is compatible with both HDR10 and HLG content. Since most HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content is either backward compatible with or available in HDR10, you will be able to watch most of the HDR content available on 4K Blu-ray Disc and streaming services. HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) was developed for live broadcast, so you are all set to enjoy sports and award shows when the networks start broadcasting.

While more and more 4K HDR content is available every day, we still watch a lot of HD content. When HD content is projected onto a massive screen, you often see noise and artifacts. For even better 4K upscaling, the X1 Ultimate also includes Dual Database Processing. Two powerful image improvement databases work together, dynamically improving images in real-time. 4K X-Reality PRO™ upscales images to near 4K clarity while a second database cleans the picture and reduces onscreen noise.

OTHER NOTABLE SONY FEATURES

The XW7000ES utilizes many of Sony’s popular features and proprietary technologies discussed in great detail in our reviews of the VW1025ES, VW915ES, and VW715ES.

Since many of the common features found in our older special feature section were repetitive, that information can now all be found on the new Sony Feature Explanation page. You also click any of the bolded/highlighted terms in the article to access a more detailed definition.

However, let’s quickly summarize some of the most notable Sony features found on the XW7000ES.

The XW7000ES is one of five laser-based 4K SXRD home theater models in Sony’s lineup. In fact, all the 2022 Sony Home Theater models utilize a version of their Z-Phosphor light engine. The light source has a rated life of 20,000-hours which ensures several years of nearly maintenance-free operation. If you watched the VW915ES for 8 hours a day, five days a week, the laser light engine would last about a decade.

The XW700ES has a Z-Phosphor light which can deliver 3200 ANSI lumens of brightness
The XW700ES has a Z-Phosphor light which can deliver 3200 ANSI lumens of brightness

The XW7000ES utilizes a Motorized Lens Assembly with Picture Positioning (lens memories). These lens memories offer the ability to save different motorized lens settings, like one for HDTV and one for widescreen movies. This is a useful feature for someone who opts for a 2.35:1 screen because they want to take advantage of the entire screen area when watching widescreen movies.

When used with a stationary anamorphic lens, the XW7000ES has several Aspect modes, including V Stretch and Squeeze, which can properly display both widescreen and 16x9 content on a 2.35:1 screen.

The new ACF lens used in the XW7000ES has a 2.14x zoom range and also has a large amount of horizontal and vertical lens shift which really simplifies installation.

To maximize the gaming experience, the XW7000ES includes a Low Latency Game Mode. When this mode is engaged, the projector switches off most of its video processing to dramatically reduce game lag.

Sony quotes 21ms input lag when playing content in 4K@60fps and just 13ms gaming in Full HD@120fps. We measured 4K/60fps at 26ms and 1080/120fps at 16ms, which is an outstanding performance for most gamers.

Unlike most flat-panel TVs, Sony home theater projectors like the XW7000ES still support 3D. The projector’s built-in RF transmitter is compatible with third-party Active RF 3D glasses for wider coverage and greater stability.

 

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